33 ladies teams from around the world set to compete at Rally Jameel in Saudi Arabia

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JEDDAH: Rally Jameel, which will now see 33 teams from around the world compete in Saudi Arabia, has been endorsed by Dr. Thuraya Obaid, a key figure for women’s empowerment in the Kingdom.

Reinforcing this year’s International Women’s Day theme #BreakTheBias, Obaid has emphasized the reason behind her support for Rally Jameel, which has increasingly gathered worldwide attention, and the progressive change it is contributing to.

“Empowerment is basically the ability of a person to make life decisions without negative pressures that prevent them from exercising this right, and thus the person is responsible for their decisions and results, both negatively or positively. It also deals with personal responsibility and its relationship to the society in which they live,” she said.

“With this in mind, Rally Jameel contributes to giving women an equal opportunity to participate in an activity that they themselves chose, trained themselves to excel in, and entered the world of national and international competition. This participation is one of the types of expression of the woman’s ability to choose her own path and activities,” she added.

“On this occasion, the rally will portray women in our Kingdom in an activity that we haven’t seen them participate in before, showing the diversity of Saudi women’s capabilities, and their ability to participate in activities that were previously restricted to them.”

Obaid was appointed head of the UN Population Fund in 2001. Prior to this, she was the director of the division for Arab states and Europe at the fund, and established the first women’s development program in Western Asia. She is also one of the 30 Saudi women appointed in 2013 as members of the Shoura Council.

“Young Saudi women have made great steps in recent years, and I learned a lot about the extent of this change through speaking directly to many of these young women,” said Obaid.

“I learned that they aspire to achieve and advance in education, work and social movements of all kinds, and participating in this amazing rally is just one part of this vision.

“I wish every young woman success in her personal path, but also in fulfilling the needs of her Kingdom.

“This is the goal of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030: To enable citizens, and women in particular, to decide their life path.”

Rally Jameel has also received the backing of the Rebelle Rally, the first women’s off-road navigation rally raid in the US.

The Rebelle tests competitors’ skills over eight days, with competitors driving to hidden checkpoints, ensuring they hit the right time marks and distance using just maps, a compass, and the rally roadbook.

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